Monday, December 6, 2010

Two Pilots Attempted Unsuccessful Landings At Ogden Hinckley Airport Before Clayton Roop's Crash Into A Home In Roy, Utah

Update December 14th: The NTSB has issued a preliminary report indicating that the pilot hit a power pole during final approach, which triggered the crash sequence. Updated post HERE.

KSL Channel 5 is reporting that two pilots had unsuccessfully attempted to land at Ogden Hinckley Airport before a Cessna 210 piloted by 47-year-old West Haven resident Clayton Roop clipped a power line and crashed in nearby Roy on Sunday December 5th, 2010, seriously damaging Pat Newman's home and setting the attic of Darrell Gamble's home alight (the damage was confined to the attic). Roop remains in critical but stable condition at the University of Utah Burn Center with burns over about 15 percent of his body; he will need skin grafts and is expected to remain in hospital for up to a month. The video embedded below includes an aerial shot of the area:

Video Courtesy of KSL.com


-- KSL gallery of 38 photos available HERE. Additional significant stories published by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News.

One of the two was contract commercial pilot Steve Lindquist, who was flying a 10-seat Cessna from Oakland to Ogden. While making his initial approach, he said the sky above Ogden-Hinckley was clear but there was a heavy layer of low-lying fog obscuring the airfield. With a ceiling of 200 feet and visibility around 3/4 miles, he lost sight of the runway, so he executed a missed approach and tried again. After a second unsuccessful try, he flew to Provo, where there was no fog. While Lindquist doesn't want to second-guess Roop, he said there are minimum visibility requirements for instrument landing procedures, and visibility had been going up and down. Although it was still above minimums when he started his first approach, it had gone down during the approach. Airport manager Ed Rich said that even if visibility was a factor in Roop's crash, the airport tower cannot deny pilots on approach.

Airport management and pilots who use Ogden-Hinckley Airport say it has a good reputation. Ed Rich said that considering the number of planes that fly there, the airport has a solid safety record compared with other airports over the last 20 years -- despite four crashes into a nearby neighborhood. He noted that they have about 100,000 takeoffs and landings a year; over 20 years, he cumulatively estimates a couple million takeoffs and landings. Two of the four crashes have occurred during takeoffs. Greenbelt once surrounding the airport has been swallowed up by development, increasing the risk factor.

Some local residents would like to see changes to the runway or landing patterns. Marné Bowden is unhappy about the situation, saying "This is the third plane that's crashed in this exact same neighborhood. The one plane hit a house two houses away from where it crashed today [Sunday]." Bowden recommends that the flight approach pattern should be changed so that planes attempting to land at Ogden-Hinckley Airport travel northerly over open fields and industrial areas instead of homes.

But many Roy residents are more concerned about the pilots' welfare. One rescuer described finding Roop as "burnt pretty well on his hands and his face, he had skin hanging on those parts, and his right side hurt pretty good, probably has a bunch of broken ribs and stuff". But although Roop was confused and dazed, he was still able to answer questions. As for Pat Newman, after running from her burning home, her thoughts weren't about her half-burned house, but of Clayton Roop.

The Ogden Standard-Examiner provides more extensive details about the damaged homes. Fire from the crash left massive holes in the ceiling of Darrel Gamble's bedroom, bathroom and a sunroom where, as a master gardener, he kept several plants, including a prized orchid. Oddly, while most of the sunroom was in shambles, several items, including a porcelain doll and decorative plates from Denmark, remained on a shelf, unscathed. Debris falling from the plane hit the garage of Gamble's neighbors, Pat and Ned Newman, causing several propane tanks to explode and producing a massive wall of flames. The remains of a splayed tree with blackened, broken branches stood next to a charred trailer and twisted metal.

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